Syrian opposition activists and aid groups said Sunday that dozens of people had died in a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma.
President Donald Trump described the attacks as “mindless” in a series of tweets on Sunday morning and, in an unusual criticism of the Russian president, said that “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.” Though Trump had last week expressed eagerness to get out of Syria, a White House official said Sunday a military response remains on the table.
The alleged attack occurred late on Saturday amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce with the Army of Islam rebel group. Douma is the last rebel stronghold in eastern Ghouta, a region that has been subjected to an intensive bombing campaign by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, which are backed by Russia.
The 10-day truce between the two sides collapsed over a disagreement regarding the evacuation of the Army of Islam fighters from the city. Violence resumed days after hundreds of opposition fighters and their relatives left Douma toward rebel-held areas in northern Syria.
Both the Syrian and Russian governments denied any involvement in the alleged chemical attack on Sunday.
The State Department says it is monitoring reports of the possible chemical weapons attack.